|Piper concept artwork by Jason Deamer © Pixar|
In an exclusive from Entertainment Weekly, the inspiration for the film came to director Alan Barillaro as he would run alongside the shore and notice flocks of sandpipers foraging for food between the wave cycles on the beach.
“Seeing the way these sandpipers react to waves and run, I always felt, ‘Gosh, that’s a film, that’s a character,” says Barillaro, who began toying with animation software as a personal challenge to design a non-speaking character who was afraid of the water yet had to venture into it to eat. “It’s always fun to show a world we’re familiar with but from a different perspective. We’ve all been to the beach, but have we ever viewed water from just an inch off the sand? That could be very fearful from a bird’s perspective."Barillaro notes that there is "remarkable encouragement" within the studio - specifically with director Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter who kept pushing his innovative idea without forgetting the story, "It was their encouragement or else I would have stopped at the test phase.” As the story began to take shape Piper became a film about a child learning from parents about the way of the food chain with elements of learning from peers, as Piper meets a small hermit crab who teaches her the way of the waves.
“It’s the kid at the playground feeling,” says Barillaro. “You fall down and you feel so small, but you look and see someone even smaller than you brush themselves off and tackle something, and learn from that in your own way. It was important to me to stay in the kid world and see the world from Piper’s eyes, and not be from the human perspective.”
Setting the score of the film will be King Crimson singer Adrian Belew, “I put him in as a placeholder in my very first original story,” he says. “And Andrew said, ‘Adrian contacted me and would love to work on a Pixar project.’ So it was my first choice and his first choice come together. We were pretty excited, and he was instrumental in getting the right tone.”
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